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Monday, May 6, 2013
300 people attended the evening with Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement at the Berlin Catholic Academy auditorium on the 03rd May, which proposed dialogue as the way to a fraternal society. The event marked the start of her visit to Germany.

Berlin – Among the representatives from the various cultures and religions, there were the Apostolic Nunzio, Mons. Jean-Claude Périsset, the emeritus auxiliary bishop of Berlin, Wolfgang Wieder, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Clementina Shakembo Kamanga, and Sona Eypper, president of the International Convent of the Christian communities in Berlin.

By means of video clips and some interviews on stage, the organisers of the evening gave a brief vision of the Focolare Movement’s commitment to dialogue on various fronts:  between cultures and religions, in the fields of economics and politics, among generations.

In her address, Maria Voce recalled some important challenges facing today’s society – in Europe and all over the world: material needs aggravated by the financial crisis, reservations in the face of increasing migration, social tensions provoked by cultural diversities and insufficient integration.

“We have discovered dialogue as the highway which can be travelled with hope for success for all those who want to contribute to bring about universal brotherhood”, explained the president. “Dialogue is a style of life, a new culture, which the Movement can and wishes to offer to today’s men and women”.

If every person allows himself or herself to be guided by the consciousness of being the child of the same Father, and as a consequence of being brothers and sisters among themselves, then there would be the chance to reach a true “dialogue among persons, and not between ideologies or systems of thought”, an exchange characterised by mercy, compassion and love.

Maria Voce regards the media as the most suited means to promote this kind of dialogue, provided the contacts don’t remain “brief, fleeting, lacking sense, restricted exclusively to the virtual domain”. Instead it’s about “transforming contacts into relationships, i.e. building true networks of fraternity”.

The speech was followed by a lively and profound dialogue with the audience: What does one do when the other person does not show any interest in building a fraternal relationship? Is it right to condemn social networks as superficial means within personal relationships? Maria Voce replied in a very practical way, giving examples from her own life and inviting all those present to always take the initiative.

“For me Berlin is a city that displays the wounds of history. However, out here walls were broken down too. And you, citizens of Berlin, offer these wounds and invite others to share the fruits”. This echoes her first considerations on the German capital.

“Maria Voce does not limit herself to theory alone” – affirms Nuncio Périsset, who had received the Focolare president that same morning. “She invites us to break down the walls, to build bridges, and to take the initiative. This is important even in my work as a diplomat. God redeems the world in us and through us. And I have witnessed and lived it this evening”.

Andrea Fleming

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